Obama urges Americans to reject leaders who stoke hatred

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Former US President Barack Obama has called on Americans to reject language from any of their leaders that feeds hatred or normalises racism.

Mr Obama did not name anyone but his rare comments came after President Donald Trump sought to deflect criticism that his anti-immigrant rhetoric had fuelled violence. 

In a speech on Monday, Mr Trump condemned hatred and white supremacy. 

He was speaking after 31 people died in mass shooting on Texas and Ohio.

While in office, Mr Obama fought unsuccessfully to restrict gun ownership. He told the BBC in 2015 that his failure to pass “common sense gun safety laws” had been the greatest frustration of his presidency.

He has refrained from commenting on Mr Trump’s controversial rhetoric regarding migrants but on Monday issued a statement.

“We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalises racist sentiments; leaders who demonise those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people,” he said.

“It has no place in our politics and our public life. And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much – clearly and unequivocally.”

Saturday’s shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, left 22 people dead and 26 wounded.

The suspect was arrested and has been named as Patrick Crusius, a resident of the city of Allen, near Dallas. He is believed to be the author of a document posted online before the shooting which said the attack was “a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas”.

Then in the early hours of Sunday, a gunman killed his sister and eight others in Dayton, Ohio. Twenty-seven others were injured.

The suspect, 24-year-old Connor Betts, was shot dead by police. Officials have not yet suggested a motive for the attack and police said on Monday it was unclear whether he had intended to kill his sister.

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